Last weekend was all track for the Cardinal. There were two meets headlining last Friday and Saturday night, and they couldn’t be placed farther apart. Part of the team took to Penn State University for their National Open meet, while the rest stayed relatively local and headed up to the Dempsey Indoor Track for the University of Washington Invitational in Seattle.
Let’s start with Friday night.
Highlighting the evening were Stanford’s Distance Medley Relays (DMR) run at Penn State, where the men’s and women’s teams put forth A-teams poised to make the rare opportunity worthwhile.
DMR’s are seldom run; they are not your standard 4*400m or 4*800m, but rather they are just like the name says, a distance medley relay. It goes 1200, 400, 800, 1600, and despite being woefully unconventional, I can speak from experience that they are probably the most exciting relay to run, especially because they mix together runners of varying specialties into a relay where you typically wouldn’t find them handing off to each other.
Leading it off for the Cardinal was the woman’s team of Elise Cranny, Gaby Gayles, Olivia Baker, and Rebecca Mehra, in that order. That squad took the invitational gold by over 13 seconds to the second place home team Penn State, running 11:01.39 on the 200m banked track, and good enough for No. 1 in the nation this year and No. 6 in Stanford history. The splits were 3:18.2s for Cranny’s 1200m, 54.4s for Gayles’s 400m, 2:05s for Baker’s 800m, and 4:43 for Mehra’s closing 1600m.
In the last 7 years, that time was always good enough to qualify for Nationals.
On the men’s side, the Cardinal took second, but the real excitement took place on the final leg. The team was comprised of freshman Isaac Cortes, Jackson Shumway, Brian Smith, and Jack Keelan, a squad that was put to the test in a very competitive 3-way race. Georgetown took the gold in 9:33.59s, with Stanford right behind in 9:34.15s and Middle Tennessee State less than 0.3 seconds behind that.
And why was Stanford in it until the end? The answer is Jack Keelan. The Senior broke the sacred 4-minute barrier for the 1600m, officially splitting 3:59.62 on his anchor leg. He is now the 4th runner on the Stanford roster to accomplish the feat, joining Sean McGorty, Tom Coyle, and Grant Fisher. This pleasant surprise came off a 2015 outdoor best of 4:06.25s.
Over in Seattle, Stanford had another women’s DMR competing that won the event in 11:31.98s, but the true headliner on the west coast that night was Valarie Allman in the 20-pound weight throw. She tossed 63’ 1.5”, breaking her own school record.
Saturday night featured a tight 4*400m for the women in Pennsylvania. The team of Gaby Gayles, Michaela Crunkleton Wilson, Hannah Labrie-Smith, and Olivia Baker collectively ran 3:40.29s, second only to Maryland by a slim margin of 0.08s. It was a battle between Baker and the Canadian Olympian Micha Powell on the final leg, but the Terrapin was able to edge Baker at the line.
In the women’s 800m, Elise Cranny took second in 2:05.51, followed by Rebecca Mehra in 2:05.81s, positioning the two women at Nos. 6-7 on Stanford’s all-time indoor list.
After a grueling weekend of collecting flight mileage, the Cardinal has certainly earned this weekend off from meets. The team will suit up next on Saturday February 11th at another bifurcation of meets: either the Don Kirby Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico; the Husky Classic in Seattle, Washington; or the Iowa State Classic in Ames, Iowa.